Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Eating Healthy According to the Qur’an & Sunnah

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from an article by Karima Burns.  Modern Muslims often turn to books and magazines to find out what foods will make them healthy, however, the Qur’an and hadits have provided the Muslim community with many ideas of foods that should be included in the ideal diet.

The Qur’an mentions many fruits and vegetables as well as meat, milk and many spices among the foods Muslims can enjoy and thrive on.  Among some of the fruits and vegetables mentioned in the Qur’an and hadits are melons, grapes, citrus, squash, figs and dates.

The Qur’an states that "fruits, palm trees and pomegranates" were provided for our nourishment.



In them will be Fruits, and dates and pomegranates: (Surah ar-Rahman:68)

Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) states that melons were amongst one of the fruits most often eaten by the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).  In fact, the melon is one of the best recommendations for health that the Prophet (s.a.w.) has given us.  The melon is one of the few fruits and vegetables rich in both vitamin C and Beta-Carotene.  In addition, half a melon contains 825 milligrams of potassium.  The body uses potassium to help eliminate excess sodium, which in large amounts can cause blood pressure to rise.

In fact, in an international study of more than 10,000 people, researchers found that those with the highest potassium levels had the lowest blood pressures.  In addition, potassium helps keep the body's LDL (dangerous cholesterol) from sticking to the artery walls.

Melons also provide a very rare nutrient called folate, a B vitamin, which is essential in combating birth defects and heart disease.  Prevention's New Foods for Healing Guide mentions a study of almost 4,000 mothers that revealed that those who got enough folate were 60% less likely to have children with brain and spinal cord defects.

The melon contains 1,000 Blessings and 1,000 Mercies.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) said "None of your women who are pregnant and eat of water melon will fail to produce offspring who are good in countenance and good in character.”

Additionally, men can benefit from folate too.  Folate controls the levels of a chemical called homocysteine in the body, which when allowed to exist in excess can contribute to artery clogging and thus heart disease.

Citrus is also a favoured fruit of the Qur’an and hadits.  Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). had said, "The parable of a believer who reads the Qur’an regularly is like that of a citrus it has a good taste and a good fragrance".  Similarly, just as the Qur’an will provide a healthy spiritual life, the citrus fruits can provide a healthy physical life for the believer.

In fact, all citrus are packed with many valuable nutrients.  Most famous of these is vitamin C.  Vitamin C is famed for its powerful antioxidant properties.  This means that it disarms powerful oxygen molecules in the body that contribute to cancer and heart disease.  The body also uses vitamin C to manufacture collagen; the substance that glues cells together and is essential for healing.  A large lemon contains about 75 percent of the body’s daily requirement vitamin C.  In addition, substances dubbed limonene and limonese have been found to block some of the cellular changes that can lead to cancer.

Oranges are perhaps the most universally known sources of vitamin C but, in fact, fruits like the kiwi and berry contain more vitamin C than an orange.  Researchers have found that although oranges are a valuable source of vitamin C, this vitamin accounts for only about 15% of the total healing activity in an orange.  Oranges actually have much more to offer.  Hesperidin, found in oranges has been found by Brazilian researchers to stop inflammation without damaging the stomach lining as aspirin can.

In the Medicine of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.), it is also mentioned that Allah’s Messenger (s.a.w.), loved grapes and melons.  Although alcohol is forbidden, the Qur’an mentions grapes alone six times.  In fact, grape juice has recently been found to be an important source of flavanoids that can lower risk for cancer, lower cholesterol, prevent hardening of the arteries and fight heart disease.

Squash is among the vegetables mentioned by the prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).  A hadits from Swahih al-Bukhari quotes that ibn Malik (r.a.) said, "A tailor invited the Prophet (s.a.w.) to a meal that he had prepared, and I went along with the Prophet (s.a.w.).  The tailor presented barley bread and soup containing gourd and cured meat.  I saw the Prophet (s.a.w.) picking the pieces of gourd from around the dish, and since then I have kept on liking gourd."

Scientists have found that people who have more vitamin C in the diets over time have fewer lung ailments as the vitamin gets transported to the lining of the lung as serves as an antioxidant there.

Even dried fruits are beneficial according to the Qur’an and hadits.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) mentioned figs and then stated, "If I had to mention a fruit that descended from Paradise I would say this is it because the fruits of Paradise do not have pits.  Eat from these fruits for they prevent haemorrhoids, prevent piles and help gout."  This is recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari.

Figs are a top source of fiber, as well as potassium and vitamin B6.  Fiber results in bulkier stools, which lessen the incidence of constipation, haemorrhoids and colon cancer.  Fiber also lowers cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.  A Harvard University study of 43,757 men ages 40 to 75 found that those who got the most fiber had about half the risk of getting a heart attack as those who got the least.  Furthermore, men who added just 10 grams of fiber a day to their diet, approximately 6 figs, lowered their incidence of heart disease by 30%.  This could also be why fibrous dates are another favoured food of the Prophet (s.a.w.) who was recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari to have said, "Whoever takes seven 'ajwa dates in the morning will not be effected by magic or poison on that day."  The Prophet (s.a.w.) also said, "There is a tree among the trees which is similar to a Muslim in goodness, and that is the date palm tree."

As Muslims, we are wise to include these foods in our diet.  Allah (s.a.w.) has blessed us with many good foods and in the Qur’an it Says:



…"Eat of the good things We have provided for you"... (Surah al-A'araf:160)


The Gifts of Every Moment

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from a swuhbah from Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim Adil al-Haqqani (q.s.) on the 01st February 2010.

Each day, we see the sun rise and set, yet we are oblivious to the fact that each rising of the sun heralds a new set of Gifts from Allah (s.w.t.).  Allah (s.w.t.) Sends new Gifts daily, both day and night.  It is human nature to like to experience new things, for all that is new, is enjoyable.  Allah (s.w.t.) Knows the intricate needs of His Creation and He is Constantly Sending His Gifts to Creation, in order to Fulfill these spoken and unspoken needs.  Praise be to Allah (s.w.t.).

Each person is Sent Gifts, both physical and spiritual, according to his needs, of which nothing is hidden from the Perfect Knowledge of Allah (s.w.t.).  For example, look at how a boa constrictor eats.  It merely swallows the entire calf alive, and there is little taste or pleasure in that experience.  Compare that with how we eat.  Our food is cooked in a variety of succulent ways, and we eat in small mouthfuls, and we take enjoyment and pleasure in munching and tasting every morsel.  Allah (s.w.t.) has Honoured us over the rest of Creation.  This is how Allah (s.w.t.) is Kind and Merciful, Giving Pleasure and Satisfaction to us, for with every bite, with every sip.  He Gives numerous tastes - sweet, sour, bitter and salty.  Allah (s.w.t.) Gives and Gives; He is al-Karim.  He Gives endlessly and generously.

However, there is more to it than simply Giving us pleasure with food.  All the pleasures of this world are imitated pleasures.  They are limited pleasures that are actually meant to show us what endless pleasures lie in store in akhirah.  This is so that we would be even more thankful to Allah (s.w.t.) and would strive for it and seek closeness to Allah (s.w.t.).  These worldly pleasures are a sneak preview of what True Pleasures lie ahead for us in akhirah.  Shaykh Nazhim (q.s.) cited an example to explain this.  Imagine a chef whipping up a delicious meal in the kitchen.  Before serving it, he takes a tiny pinch of the dish, to taste it, just to make sure that it tastes right, before serving it.  Once he is satisfied that it is perfect, the chef then serves the customer, who tucks into the meal.  That pinch the chef put on his tongue is the pleasure of this worldly life, and the entire dish taken by the customer, is the pleasure of the hereafter.

The pleasure of this worldly life, is supposed to whet our appetite for the life of akhirah and for us to witness the Generosity and Mercy of our Lord.  But instead of doing so, after tasting this worldly pleasure, people become drunk on it and forgets the pleasure of the hereafter.  These fools seek the pleasures of dunya, day and night.  It is ironic.  These pleasures are supposed to open our hearts and eyes to akhirah, and to our Lord's Mercy, but instead, it has blinded many and made them obsessed with this worldly pleasure.  It is like the chef, who yearns for that next taste of a tiny pinch of food, whereas an entire dish, a true gastronomic delight, awaits him, once he has ended his work.

We yearn for different food types each day.  People get bored if the same food is served on consecutive days.  Allah (s.w.t.) Knows our needs and has Provided us with a staggering array of choices.  We may enjoy His Gifts but may not forget to thank Him.  And we must never forget that these represent only the tip of the iceberg.  Much more awaits us in the hereafter if we are obedient.  Similarly, there is a staggering array of spiritual food that our soul yearns for day and night.  We must not just fulfill the bodily needs as animals do, but seek the spiritual food that distinguishes us from animals.


Of Him seeks (its needs) every creature in the heavens and on earth: every day in (new) Splendour doth He (shine)! (Surah ar-Rahman:29)

Yet Allah (s.w.t.) Himself is unchanged at all times.  He has been the same from pre-eternity until eternity.  Allah (s.w.t.) does not change, for Perfection can neither improve nor deteriorate.  For example, if we say that Allah (s.w.t.) is Wealthier today, than He was yesterday, it means that He was poorer yesterday, as compared to today.  It is impossible that Allah (s.w.t.) is ever poor.  He is always the Most Wealthy, from pre-eternity, to eternity.  His Wealth does not increase or decrease.  Allah (s.w.t.) is unchanged, for He is Perfection and is in need of no one.  It is Creation which changes continuously and is always in need of Him.

How we accept and use these pleasures will determine what sort of creature we are in Divine Judgement.  We can be creatures of Light or Darkness, depending on whether we are grateful servants or not.  Each moment, the responsibility lies on ourselves to accept these Gifts with gratitude.  Hence in each moment of our lives, we are given opportunities to attain both worldly and eternal pleasure.  To let those moments pass without benefiting is a great loss.


In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
By (the token of) time (through the ages), verily Man is in loss, (Surah al-‘Aswr:1-2)


Monday, 27 September 2010

The Command from the Heart

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Regarding the different methods the murshid may use to teach the murid, Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim Adil al-Haqqani (q.s.) said, “Knowledge comes in two ways.  One is by listening from the outside and using that in directing oneself on a way.  But some knowledge comes from the heart, and this is more powerful in pushing one towards his target.  In other words, if a command comes from outside, the ego does not make an effort to keep it, but when it comes from yourself, it has more effect.  The ego never likes to be commanded, but if it is coming from the heart, you see it as honourable.

You may listen to so many lessons, but really you are waiting for that command to come from yourself.  Correct and Divine Guidance come with the second way.  The awliya’ may speak, but they also send inspiration to hearts.  The murshid may teach by inspiration.  Then, one thinks about the knowledge coming, ‘I am thinking this.’  The more we are purified, the more Divine Wisdom can be caught by our hearts’ ears.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) taught that if one can keep his heart pure, and worship sincerely for forty days, then he may catch Divine Wisdom in his heart and may speak wisdom, which is the essence of knowledge.”


Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Greatest Act of Shaykh Badr ad-Din al-Hasani (q.s.)

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Shaykh Badr ad-Din al-Hasani was one of the great muhaddits.  All the scholars and shuyukh of Syria accepted him as their teacher, and those living in Damascus used to attend his daily lessons.  He had a photographic memory and knew by heart all the ahadits of Swahih al-Bukhari, Swahih Muslim, and the remainder of the six most famous books of ahadits, including the biography of all narrators of all chains of every hadits, their dates of birth and death, and their status of authenticity.  He also used to explain the Qur'an by heart from Imam al Baydawi's (r.a.) Tafsir.  His ijazah was especially besought by ahadits scholars for being the closest one of his age to the Prophet (s.a.w.), counting the number of men in the chain.  Doctors and engineers who attended his classes used to say, “We exhausted our life learning our profession, and he knows it more than us.”  He was also instrumental in the organisation of the revolution against the French occupation.  But in all this, does not lie his greatness.

At every 'Iyd, he would go out and he would give his students charity from his own pocket.  There were places, particularly in the colonial era, where there were a lot of women that were impoverished and forced into prostitution to support themselves, and he would tell his student to give those prostitutes charity, and he would say to them, “Tell them that Badr ad-Din al-Hasani asks you to make du’a for him.”

And those women would weep when they heard that: “Who are we to make du'a for Badr ad-Din al-Hasani?”  There were people who repented because of that act.  This is why he is the greatest of his time.


Achieving Real Faith

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from the teachings of Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim Adil al-Haqqani (q.s.).

In reciting Surah al-Fatihah, we say:


Praise be to Allah, the Cherisher and Sustainer of the Worlds (Surah al-Fatihah:2)

Everything in Creation praises Allah (s.w.t.), and in everything around us, there are signs of His Greatness which brings praise to Allah (s.w.t.) on our tongues.  And all praise is due only for Him.  Allah (s.w.t.) Said in the Qur’an:


… Our Lord!  Not for naught hast Thou Created (all) this!  Glory to Thee!  Give us Salvation from the penalty of the Fire. (Surah Ali ‘Imran:191)

Nothing was Created without a purpose.  It is important to draw lessons from every incident, and from every creation.  Mawlana Shaykh Nazhim (q,s,) said that there is imitated faith and real faith.  All of us only have imitation faith because the signs of real faith are three: Able to hear the praising, tasbih, of all creatures and objects, able to draw wisdom from every incident and every creature seen and able to communicate with the barzakh without a hijab.  Perhaps there is none in our majlis today who can claim to have real faith.  Real faith has real taste, like real fruits and real flowers.  Plastic fruits and artificial flowers have no taste and no smell.  One cannot taste the sweetness of faith if it is imitation faith.  To read something, or to know something, is not faith.  Faith means to have belief, yaqin, certitude in what we know.  Allah (s.w.t.) Tells us:


Said Jesus the son of Mary, “O Allah our Lord!  Send us from heaven a table set (with viands), that there may be for us ― for the first and the last of us a solemn festival and a Sign from Thee; and Provide for our sustenance, for Thou art the Best Sustainer (of our needs).” (Surah al-Ma’idah:114)

Do we really believe He is The Best of Sustainers?  Or are we still wrought with fears that we will not have enough for our worldly needs?  How many people spend their entire lives doubting Allah (s.w.t.) is truly their source of sustenance and that He truly suffices for them?


Men said to them, “A great army is gathering against you, so fear them”: but it (only) increased their faith.  They said, “For us Allah Sufficeth, and He is the Best Disposer of Affairs.” (Surah Ali ‘Imran:173)

True faith means having certainty in every ayat that we read from the Holy Book, and in every hadits that we hear from Rasulullah (s.a.w.) without a shadow of a doubt.  We must strive towards that goal, as Allah (s.w.t.) Says:


And serve thy Lord until there come unto thee the Hour that is Certain. (Surah al-Hijr:99)

Prophets and saints strove to reach that real taste of iman and opened doors for their followers to taste of the same.  It is meaningless to reach iman after death, as mentioned in the following ayat:


If only thou couldst see when the guilty ones will bend low their heads before their Lord, (saying:), “Our Lord!  We have seen and we have heard: now then send us back (to the world): we will work righteousness: for we do indeed (now) believe.” (Surah as-Sajdah:12)

An example of the faith of the companions is found in ‘Ali (k.w.).  An enemy warrior who was fighting ‘Ali (k.w.), lost his sword in combat.  ‘Ali (k.w.) raised his sword to strike him but stopped when he saw that he had lost his sword.  The warrior said, “If what I hear about your generosity is true, let me see if you would give me your sword.”  ‘Ali (k.w.) immediately gave the enemy his sword.  The enemy warrior now said, “Who will defend you now against my attack?”

‘Ali (k.w.) calmly replied, “O ignorant man!  If He so Wills, He Will Defend me.  Neither you nor anyone else can cause even the slightest harm to me.  If death, which is sure to come, is destined for me now, by Allah, none can save me.”  This reply impressed the infidel so much that he threw down the sword, glorified Allah (s.w.t.) and accepted Islam at the hands of ‘Ali (k.w.).  Would any of us have given the enemy our weapon?  Not likely and yet we have all read this ayat:


That it is He Who Granteth death and life; (Surah an-Najm:44)

  
Say: “I have no power over any harm or profit to myself except as Allah Willeth.  To every people is a term Appointed: when their term is reached, not an hour can they cause delay, nor (an hour) can they advance (it in anticipation).” (Surah Yunus:49)

And despite reading the Qur’an regularly, and understanding its meanings, we do not really believe yet in the Revelations of the Almighty.  That is why, the final surah in the entire Qur’an speaks of doubt:


From the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper) ― (The same) who whispers into the hearts of mankind ― Among jinn and among men. (Surah an-Naas:4-6)

May Allah (s.w.t.) Open the Way for us to acquire true faith and may Allah (s.w.t.) Replace our doubts with yaqin.


The King of the Jews: The Sign on the Cross

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

When I used to go to church, I would often sit alone at the front before the huge crucifix at the church.  Because it was done often enough, I noticed things.  And one of those things was the sign that read “INRI” above the statue of Jesus (a.s.).  We were taught that the Sign was an abbreviation for the Latin, “Iesus Nazarenus Rex Ideorum,” which meant “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”  But is this actually in the Bible?  I was 16 years old when I started to really question the doctrine of Christianity and it began with this sign.  A sign is a static description.  A painted wooden sign should be easily noted in a report since unlike verbal tales, they can hardly be exaggerated or minimised in the retelling.  A sign is simply a tangible display.

Matthew 27:37
37 Over his head they set a written proclamation of his offence, “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.”

Mark 15: 26
26 A proclamation of his offence was written up over him, “The king of the Jews.”

Luke 23:38
38 (A proclamation had been written up over him in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, “This is the king of the Jews.”)

John 19:19
9 And Pilate wrote out a proclamation, which he put on the cross; it ran, “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.”

And that began the seed of doubt.  They could not agree on what was written, they did not even agree on the language it was written.  If they could not verify a simple sign, what more the rest of the Gospels.  And with that, how much of Christianity was Divine?  Christian theologians claim that it makes no difference because the story is the same even though the details are different, and that is fine with the vast majority of Christians.  But I was never good at accepting things just because someone said it so.

It lead me to years of serious study of Christianity before I finally found Islam.  But the more that was learned, the more questions there were.  And the sources were themselves found to be in doubt.  We cannot verify who the actual writers of the Gospels are.  It is likely the accounts are second and third hand information at best and not eye-witness accounts.  For example, some Christian Biblical scholars hold the opinion that the three synoptic Gospels according Matthew, Mark and Luke were likely from one predecessor document, and the Gospel according to John was just as likely from another earlier text.  Of the synoptic Gospels, the Gospel according to Mark was thought to be the earliest written, but if the Matthew who wrote his Gospel was one of Jesus’ (a.s.) apostles, why did he have to copy Mark who never met Jesus (a.s.), let alone be one of his original disciples?

Unlike the sciences of the ahadits, the compiler of the Gospel according to Matthew and indeed, almost the entire corpus of early Christian works is problematic in terms of the text, the chain of transmission, the integrity of the transmitters and the number of independent verifiable chains of transmission.  Successive compilers of Christian texts were not averse to inserting their own ideas, suppositions and prejudices and changed, omitted and otherwise adapted the material for their own purposes to reflect their own understanding of the reality of the times.  Even the translation of the Bible has been in many cases, less than honest.

We are not even sure who Luke was and there is no indication that he ever met Jesus (a.s.) since he was definitely not one of the apostles.  But the biggest nail in the coffin was the fact that Paul of Tarsus never met Jesus (a.s.).  He only met the some of the apostles for an extended period perhaps another decade later.  And yet, inexplicably, his deviant teachings have become the basis of much of modern Christianity.  It would be more accurate to call Christianity Paulinism since it was he and his theological successors that formulated the theology and doctrine of Christianity.  Within that interval, Jesus (a.s.) became ‘God.’


Beware the People of Filth

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is adapted from a swuhbah from Shaykh Muhammad Nazhim Adil al-Haqqani (q.s.) on the 24th September 2010.

Shaykh Nazhim (q.s.) said we must to be rijalullah, men of Allah (s.w.t.), heroes for Allah (s.w.t.).  If anyone were to look at such men, their heart would tremble.  Such are the men who will be part of the armies of Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.).  Good tidings come from Allah (s.w.t.) daily.  They clean this filthy world of Shaythan and his followers.  We must not be from those zibil, people of filth.  There are two kinds of people in this world.  One kind is precious and the other is rubbish.  Now is that time, we must be aware that there is a brush coming to clean because this world has become filthy.  The ones who are unclean will be taken away.  We have reached the limits of dunya and the Day of Resurrection is approaching.  From times before, multitudes have had their names written as unclean and they will be taken away.

So, who are the unclean?  They are those who follow Shaythan.  We have to repent and seek Refuge in Allah (s.w.t.).  We have to be purified and not be counted amongst the unclean, the followers of Shaythan.  Allah (s.w.t.) never likes the unclean.  He is a God of Purity.  The unclean are those who have taken their egos, their desires as their god.  We must work to have our names written under the table of precious stones, of pearls, diamonds, rubies and emeralds.  We must be precious in the Divine Sight.

The filth we speak of is a spiritual filth, not a physical one.  We cannot say we take a bath every day, therefore, we are not in need of any other cleaning.  A rat always travels through sewage channels and it does not consider itself dirty either.  This world is that sewage channel.  The impurity is of the self, within us.  It is because people either do not believe in Allah (s.w.t.) or they do not follow His Divine Law.  That is true filth.  We are not speaking of baths.  Even if any of us were to a bathe 50 times or more a day, we would still be unclean.  We must be aware that there is a coming a storm to remove the unclean and to cleanse the rest.  The ones they are Protected are safe.  Divine vengeance is imminent for those without Protection, for those who are heedless and in love with the world.  So be with Allah (s.w.t.) and be Protected from the trials of dunya.


Allah's (s.w.t.) Unlimited Treasures

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

This is a summary of a lesson from our shaykh, Mu’allim at-Tarim, Shaykh Zakaria ibn ‘Umar Bagharib (q.s.).

It is accepted by Muslims that Allah (s.w.t.) Created the heavens and kept so many valuables in it.  Billions of people will get their own part of Jannah with such valuables that we cannot imagine in this world.  Whatever we see is just a glimpse of heavenly delights.  Then, Allah (s.w.t.) Created an uncountable amount of things in the universe.  And this is just the latest universe out of many and there will be an infinite number of universes after we are gone.  There are Creations that have had their Yawm al-Qiyamah and there are Creations in formation for Allah (s.w.t.) is always al-Khaliq, the Creator, and al-Mumit, the Destroyer.

All Creation benefits according to degrees from the Treasures of Allah (s.w.t.).  After Creating creatures, Allah (s.w.t.) has been Spending on them and will keep on Spending forever.  Allah (s.w.t.) is ar-Razzaq, the Provider.  All these things also come from the Treasures of Allah (s.w.t.).  Such is Allah (s.w.t.), whose Treasures are Unlimited and never gets exhausted.

The archangel Jibril (a.s.) is so large that he could cover the distance between the East and the West.  If he stood, his head would reach just beneath the ‘Arsh of Allah (s.w.t.).  When Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) went for Mi’raj, Jibril (a.s.) stopped at Sidrat al-Muntaha and said that he cannot proceed further.  As the Holy Spirit that brought Revelation to ‘Isa (a.s.), this is the maqam of ‘Isa (a.s.).  For those of discernment, this is the point where the maqam of Muhammad (s.a.w.) passed that of ‘Isa (a.s.).  For did not Allah (s.w.t.) Promise to Raise us by Degrees and such is His Raising of the Greatest of Prophets, Muhammad (s.a.w.).

From here, 70,000 Veils of Nur begin.  Such a huge angel is Jibril (a.s.), but if he crosses one of these Veils from the Nur of Allah (s.w.t.), he would be burnt to nothingness, annihilated.  So, these powerful Creations of Allah (s.w.t.) are nothing compared to even the Light of Allah (s.w.t.).  How Powerful and Majestic is Allah (s.w.t.) then?

Yet for all that, we doubt His Will.  And some even question His Existence.  The Majesty of Allah’s (s.w.t.) Might lies not in the big things, but in the tiniest details.  He is al-Lathif, the Subtle One, Aware of even the smallest details of each and every one of His Creation.  As Imam al-Ghazali (r.a.) wrote, Allah (s.w.t.) Knows the shadow of the black ant on the black rock in the black cave on a black night.  He Knows us to the Limits of our being.  So we should be ashamed when we are away and be aware when we are near.


The Excellence of Prayer at Night, Qiyam al-Layl

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
  

Establish regular prayers at the sun’s decline until the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony.  And pray in the small watches of the morning: (it would be) an additional prayer (or spiritual profit) for thee: soon will thy Lord Raise thee to a station of Praise and Glory! (Surah al-Isra’:78-79)

It is recorded in Swahih Muslim that Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “The best prayer after the obligatory prayers is the night prayer.”

It was also recorded by Imam Muslim (r.a.), Imam Abu Dawud (r.a.), Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.), Imam an-Nasa’i (r.a.), and Imam ibn Majah (r.a.) that Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) was asked, “What prayer is most virtuous, after the obligatory prayers?”

He replied, “Prayer in the depths of the night.”

It was recorded by Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.) and Imam Hakim (r.a.) that ‘Abdullah ibn Salam (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “O people!  Spread the salam, feed others, maintain family ties, and pray at night when others sleep and you will enter Heaven safely.”

It was recorded by Imam at-Tirmidzi (r.a.) and others that Abu Umamah al-Bahili (r.a.) reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Hold fast to night prayer, for it is the way of the righteous before you, a way of drawing closer to your Lord, an expiation for wrong deeds, and a shield from sin.”  In some narrations, there is an addition, “And it repels sickness from the body.”

Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) recorded that ibn Mas’ud (r.a.) said, “The virtue of night prayer over day prayer is like the virtue of secret charity over open charity.”  The scholars explain that this refers to voluntary prayers.

Imam Saffarini (r.a.), the Hanbali faqih and Sufi, explained in his Ghidza al-Albab Sharh Manzhumat al-Adab, “Night prayer is superior to day prayer because it is more concealed and closer to sincerity.  The salaf used to strive hard to hide their secrets,” meaning the actions between them and Allah (s.w.t.).

Sulthan al-‘Ariffin, Shaykh Hasan al-Baswri (q.s.) said, “It used to be that a person would have guests staying over and he would pray at night without his guests knowing.”

The night prayer is harder on the lower self, because night is a time of rest from the tire of day, so leaving sleep despite the lower self being desirous of it is a tremendous struggle, mujahada.  Some have said, “The best of works are those the lower self is forced to perform.”  Recitation in night prayer is closer to contemplation because things that busy the heart are mostly absent at night, so the heart is attention and is with the tongue in understanding, as Allah (s.w.t.) Said:

  
Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (framing) the Word (of Prayer and Praise).  True, there is for thee by day prolonged occupation with ordinary duties: But keep in remembrance the Name of thy Lord, and devote thyself to Him wholeheartedly. (Surah al-Muzzammil:6-8)

It is because of this that we have been Commanded to recite the Qur’an in night prayer in a steady recital, tartil.  And it is because of this that night prayer is a shield from sin.  The night vigil time is the best of times for voluntary worship and prayer, and the closest a servant is to his Lord.  It is a time when the doors of the heavens are Opened, supplications Answered, and the needs of those who ask Fulfilled.  Allah (s.w.t.) Praises those who wake up at night for His remembrance, supplication, and to seek Forgiveness and entreat Him, Saying thus:


Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord, in Fear and Hope: and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have Bestowed on them.  Now no person knows what delights of the eye are Kept Hidden (in reserve) for them as a Reward for their (good) Deeds. (Surah as-Sajdah:16-17)

  
Those who show patience, firmness and self-control; who are true (in word and deed); who worship devoutly; who spend (in the way of Allah); and who pray for forgiveness in the early hours of the morning. (Surah Ali ‘Imran:17)

  
And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!”  Those who spend the night in adoration of their Lord prostrate and standing; (Surah al-Furqan:63-64)

Imam Saffarini (r.a.), in Ghidha al-Albab Sharh Mandhumat al-Adab, and Imam Abu Sa’id al-Khadimi (r.a.), in al-Bariqah al-Mahmudiyyah Sharh ath-Thariqa’ al-Muhammadiyyah, have concurred and said there is scholarly consensus, ijma’, that among the best of virtuous acts is the night vigil prayer.

The scholars have derived from the Qur’an and hadits, that the minimal night vigil prayer is 2 raka’at.   Its optimal recommended amount is 8 raka’at because this was the general practice of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  All this is mentioned in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah, quoting Fath al-Qadir

Lengthier recitation is superior to a larger number of raka’at prayed.  If one divides the night in thirds, then the final middle third is most virtuous.  If one divides the night in half, then the second half is more virtuous.  All this is found in Radd al-Mukhtar ‘ala ad-Durr al-Mukhtar.
  
Voluntary, nafl, prayer at night is more virtuous than voluntary prayer during the day.  However, the full Reward Mentioned in the Qur’anic verses and hadits refers to worship that was preceded by sleep.  This is also understood from the very linguistic meaning of tahajjud, which is to struggle to rid oneself of sleep.  This is found in Radd al-Mukhtar ‘ala ad-Durr al-Mukhtar, quoting the Halbah ibn ‘Amir Hajj.

Imam ibn Nujaym (r.a.) and Imam al-Haswkafi (r.a.) both affirmed that night prayer is recommended, as mentioned in Bahr ar-Ra’iq Sharh Kanz ad-Daqa’iq fi Furu’ al-Hanafiyyah and Radd al-Mukhtar ‘ala ad-Durr al-Mukhtar; chosen in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah.  Imam Kamal ibn al-Humam (r.a.), the brilliant mujtahid who was the greatest Hanafi faqih of the latter half of Islamic history, however, wavered between it being recommended or a confirmed sunnah.  This is because while the spoken hadits indicate recommendation, the continued practice of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) would seem to indicate it being a confirmed sunnah.  This was also chosen by Imam ibn al-Humam’s (r.a.) student, Imam ibn Amir Hajj (r.a.) in his Halbah.

It is disliked to leave the night vigil prayer for one who has made it their habit, unless there is an excuse, because the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said to ibn ‘Umar (r.a.), “O ‘Abdullah!  Do not be like so-and-so.  He used to pray at night and then left it.”  This is in both Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim.  Therefore, one should take on an amount of works one can sustain, for the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, “The most Beloved of actions to Allah are the most constant, even if little.”  This is also in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim.

It is recommended to start the night vigil with two short raka’at, because of the hadits of Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) that the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) said, “It you get up for night prayer, start with two short raka’at.”  This is recorded in Swahih Muslim, Sunan Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and Sunan Abu Dawud.

Supplications in the depths of the night are answered, as the hadits have mentioned.  ibn Mas`ud (r.a.) was told, “I cannot pray at night.”

He replied, “Your sins have prevented you.”  And Allah (s.w.t.) Alone Gives success.

Qiyam al-Layl, the night vigil is a source of great spiritual energy.  The Qur’an also Commends the one who utilises the early hours of each day to engage in remembrance of Allah (s.w.t.):


Is one who worships devoutly during the hours of the night prostrating himself or standing (in adoration), who takes heed of the Hereafter, and who places his hope in the Mercy of his Lord ― (like one who does not)?  Say: “Are those equal, those who know and those who do not know?  It is those who are endued with understanding that receive admonition.” (Surah az-Zumar:9)

  
They were in the habit of sleeping but little by night, (Surah adz-Dzariyat:17)

It was recorded by Imam at-Timirdzi (r.a.) that the Prophet (s.a.w.) has said, “Keep up qiyam al-layl.  It was the way of the virtuous who came before you; it draws you nearer to your Lord, atones for your sins, forbids you from evil and protects the body from sickness.”

It was recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim that ’Aishah (r.a.) reported, “The Prophet (s.a.w.) kept standing (in prayer) so long that the skin of his feet would crack.  I asked him, ‘Why do you do this, while you have been Forgiven of your former and latter sins?’

He replied, ‘Should I not be a grateful slave of Allah?’”

This hadits is reproduced here to illustrate the practice of the Prophet (s.a.w.) in respect of qiyam al-layl.  It tells us that the nafl swalat should be performed with full concentration and peace of mind.  The more one is Endowed with Gifts from Allah (s.w.t.), the greater gratitude and worship one should express for them to Allah (s.w.t.).  The best time for showing one's humility before Allah (s.w.t.) and for worship is the later period of night.

It is recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim that ‘Ali (k.w.) reported, “The Prophet (s.a.w.) visited Fathimah and I one night and asked, ‘Do you not observe prayer?’”  He was referring to the night prayer.  This hadits tells us that one should also awaken others at night for prayer so that they also avail the benefits of performing prayer at this particular time

It is recorded in Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim that Shaykh Salim ibn ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.) reported, on the authority of his father, that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “What an excellent man ‘Abdullah is!  If only he could perform optional prayers at night.’”  Shaykh Salim (r.a.) said that after this, his father, ‘Abdullah (r.a.) slept very little at night.  This hadits points out the excellence of `Abdullah ibn `Umar (r.a.) as well as the merits of qiyam al-layl.